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The Connected Web

Phil Wainewright

Managing Integration In a Hybrid Cloud Environment

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Listen to my conversation with Rick Nucci, co-founder and CTO of cloud integration Boomi, in a podcast interview recorded in the week before the vendor's acquisition by server manufacturer Dell. Previous conversations with Rick were SaaS Integration, Simpler through Sharing, in April 2009 and Why Your Cloud Applications Should Be Multi-tenant last February.

In this podcast, learn how enterprises handle integration in a hybrid environment where they have both on-cloud and on-premise assets and find out why it makes sense to deploy and manage those integrations from the cloud.

Listen to or download the 7:05 minute podcast below:

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PW: Rick, what I wanted to focus on in our conversation today was the issue of hybrid strategies, where people have got cloud and on-premise working together. Because I know that there are exceptions where companies are going 100% to the cloud — and actually quite a big number, a surprisingly big number of companies according to some surveys — but that doesn't affect the fact that the vast majority of organizations are going to have cloud applications running alongside their existing on-premise IT. And I guess, because Boomi is in the integration business, you have a lot of customers in that position.

RN: For sure. Yeah, in fact, two thirds of our customers are connecting one or more SaaS applications to on-premise IT, absolutely.

So Rick, that's interesting because I would've thought that a lot of enterprises have already got some kind of integration technology in-house. So if they're connecting on-premise applications to cloud applications, why are they using Boomi's cloud integration, rather than just extending their in-house middleware to integrate the cloud assets as well?

Yeah, it's a great question and it's an important one because you're exactly right. Certainly mid-market on up are going to have some pre-existing middleware. The key thing to understand is that those middleware technologies by-and-large were built before the cloud era, '90s or earlier. So the general paradigm that they were thinking about when they were building those applications is connecting applications that were on-premise, within four walls inside the same data center, and so that enabled them to think about the paradigm of application integration differently.

Meanwhile, you have B2B software specialists — where sure, they understand the idea of transmitting data securely outside the firewall, but [they] are not application integration specialists, so do not understand — or did not have to build into their products — things like application connectors, and application integration patterns like content-based routing and decision logic, and things of that nature that you'll find in application integration.

So you have this middle world so to speak, where you've got the need to connect clouds and on-premise — so the need to connect data that's moving outside your environment — and neither product built with that unique use case in mind.

Oh, so that's interesting. So what people — in the past — it was really a case of, either you were connecting things B2B in the Web, or in the extranet whatever it was; or you were connecting things internally within the intranet, to use the old words. And you didn't have integration products that crossed between the two spheres of activity, and that's why people need to rethink integration when they have this hybrid environment, you're saying?

Exactly. Exactly. I mean let's take them — probably the one that's top-of-mind today when we talk to CIOs that are thinking through their cloud strategy, and that's this notion of data governance. Now that's a loaded word. But what we mean in that context of data governance is the idea that, in a SaaS environment, your data is transcending ownership boundaries. So your data was clearly yours in the on-premise world — and your data still by and large is yours in SaaS applications — but it's being transmitted out of your enterprise.

So there needs to be very explicit enforcement of security policies around how — when an integration is built — how that data is transmitted. And making sure that it's transmitted in a way that meets security and privacy policies, but also the ability to audit and trace that data as it's sent out outside of that environment.

That was sort of a nice-to-have in the on-premise world, now it's like top-of-mind. That you can search and say, okay, Customer 123, I want to see every time that customer record was sent out of my enterprise or pulled into my enterprise. Why was it changed? Who changed it? What application did it come from, etc.?

Right — which I think — that's interesting, because I think a lot of reservations that people have got about moving their applications into a cloud environment is around the visibility and the control into what's happening. And what you're saying is validating that; is saying, yes, you do need to worry about that, and you particularly need to have integration middleware which is aware of all of those issues and able to stay on top of them.

Exactly. Exactly. I mean the ability to go to one location, to have visibility into all of the integrations running across your enterprise, at the end of the day, is what we believe is of paramount importance — and will continue to be critical to the success of companies as they're rethinking their integration strategies in the cloud.

And would you say that's the key benefit of running integration in the cloud rather than keeping it on-premise? The fact that you've got this single view of what's happening and you've got this visibility and governance that you wouldn't have with on-premise integration middleware?

That's certainly one. Yeah, that's a big one. This centralized development environment, centralized operations and administration environment is absolutely paramount we think. The other benefit that goes hand-in-hand with that is the ability to distribute that integration to run in different clouds. While the development environment and the management environment should be centralized and should be accessible in one place, where the integration's actually running is a whole different story, because integration really needs to run at the location of the data that's being integrated.

And I always like to use the analogy of [content delivery networks] CDNs, right, where a CDN was built in order to push content to where you are located, so that you have an optimum Web browsing experience. Well, we believe integration needs to follow that same paradigm. When you think about cloud, when you think about companies that are doing a combination of spinning up new SaaS applications completely and also moving applications into public clouds or private clouds — but certainly moving them into public clouds like Amazon — it definitely changes that paradigm. And you might in fact have integrations running in Amazon, you might have them running on-premise, you might have them running in Boomi's cloud. So the integration is distributed. All the more critical then that the management and development environment has to be centralized to one place.

Right. So when we talk about integration in the cloud, we're actually talking about managing the integration in the cloud — and even though there may be point-to-point integrations or instances of integration, especially between two on-premise servers, that would happen on-premise. So you're not taking all of the data and all of the connections into the cloud, you're just taking the oversight?

Exactly. Exactly. It's remote management and it's remote development. You're exactly right.

1 Comment

Hello - I like the interaction here and i agree largely. However I truly believe that Hybrid Cloud is the only way to go for companies north of 100 employees. However that being said i have seen companies with small employee bases that have very complex 3rd party integration, security, auditting and DR requirements that make only limited cloud a reality for them


Phil Wainewright blogs about how businesses are using the Web to get better plugged into today's fast-moving, digital economy.

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